Sometimes in improv you have to be an animal – whether it’s a tiger, frog, elephant or rabbit sometimes it is vital to be an animal to get the best out of a character or to understand a scene. There are many warm up exercises that you can do to really get into either character or mindset in improv using the ideology of animals – it may sound bizarre but creatures all have their own personas and channeling them can really help you develop attributes of comedy. So, today I am going to talk to you about a few exercises you can do to help you out and channel your inner Tiger!
Entering a scene as an animal – This is a warm up exercise we use a lot in Punderstandably rehearsals as it really helps you get into the mind set of creating strong characters to play on stage. Before you start a scene, someone will whisper to each of you in a scene a creature that you will then try and channel in the scene. Not to become the animal but to create characters based on their mentalities. The fun thing about this game is that neither of you in the scene knows the animal that the other is trying to channel so it creates humour to the ones who did the suggestions as the people in the scene have to work together to make a scene.
So for example on of you could of been given an elephant which is a big bold and heavy style of character and then the other could of been given a chicken so the character could be skitty, erratic and move a lot around the stage whilst being inquisitive – it can create some fun scene work.
Musical Animals – I learnt this technique in a Musical Improv Lesson with Phil Lunn, the whole idea of this exercise it to get used to singing in melodies and not relying to singing to the actual rhythm of the song. So, we would go up in pairs and then the rest of the class would decide what animal we would be. The idea with this is when Phil started to play a melody we would then sing in the style of that animal – so if you were a lion you would be bold and powerful with a sense of dominance, if you are a turtle all of your movements would be slow and your melodies would be long and slow.
Walking around a room as an animal – Another exercise that I have done with trainers (I think this was again another exercise I did with Phil Lunn) is to walk around the room like an animal – this is to again get used to creating characters. Each animal has a different style in the way that they walk and this really helps you develop the way a character can walk and interact on stage.
So the next time you are thinking of ways you can develop a character, think of animals and the eye of the Tiger so to speak!